Thursday, 7 April 2016

Button Trees - They're back!

Exactly 6 years ago to the day, I posted this photo in this blog of the button tree I'd made. Much to my surprise, that photo got pinned and repinned many times on Pinterest and elsewhere. At one time, if you searched Google images for 'button tree' it came in about 3rd. Now it's slipped a long way down the page, and its heyday seems to be over. There were a few copies, but nicely credited ones, which I'll call 'tribute acts', here and here and here. It also appeared on a lot of sites where it wasn't credited, and even appeared on a Tumblr site called 'StupidShitOn Pinterest', which sadly no longer seems to exist. That one made me laugh a lot at the time.
In my misguided way, instead of thinking 'Hey, this is popular, maybe a I should make some more.', after I'd made a couple, I just went off the idea. To be honest, most pinners were putting it on boards called 'DIY Ideas' and 'Craft I'll Try Some Day', and they only visited my blog looking for a tutorial. But a few weeks ago, I revived the idea and had some fun making a few more.
I was very pleased to sell one at the Vintage & Handmade Fair the other week, and the rest I've listed in my Etsy shop. The middle one is made from vintage mother-of-pearl buttons, and silver-plated wire, and looks like a frosted wintry tree, I think.
I've kept to the idea of putting them in vintage cotton reels, as that seeemed to get a vote of confidence at the time, but I might make a larger one in a block. I'd also be happy to take orders for customised colours or button styles (I have A LOT of different vintage buttons, funnily enough).

Just as a footnote, I want to make it clear that I'm quite flattered (if a bit bemused) by any copies that anyone has made. Lots of people wanted to make their own version, which is great. - it's such a compliment if I can inspire creativity in others.
 

Saturday, 19 March 2016

7 Days and Counting...

No, not until Easter - much more important - it's just seven days until the Vintage & Handmade Fair at Chipping Sodbury! I am going to be there selling my handmade wares.
This is the first outing for my 'makes' (like my granny square brooches, above) after a long hiatus, and I'm a wee bit nervous. I have been concentrating on getting enough work produced (which is partly why I haven't blogged for a while), but you know how it is - there is never enough time.

I seem to come up with all my best ideas when there is a deadline looming, and not really enough time to get everything finished. When there's no deadline, I dither and dawdle, unable to decide which colour, which yarn, which button, which bead? When I HAVE TO GET IT DONE, I generally do it.
Most recently, I have been making art dolls, all crocheted individually, with antique china doll heads, and decorated with vintage buttons, beads and charms.
If you've been following my Facebook page or Instagram, you'll have seen some of these. 
This is the latest one, and probably the prettiest, with her flowered skirt. I'm quite pleased with them. They are a lot less weird than my previous dolls, but I daresay some people will still find them a bit odd, with their blobby bodies and no arms!

I have also been tinkering with tiny treasures like these to come up with mini shadow boxes. This has been a little bit dangerous, as it involves glue. I will never be able to master glue. I get it in my hair, on my clothes, and inevitably end up with my fingers stuck together. But I persevere.
And not only have I made kitsch little boxes like these (not covered in glue!), but I have been collaging onto vintage wooden blocks, which can be rearranged to make a variety of different collage pictures.

I will be taking other goodies to the fair as well, so hopefully, I will have a good stall full of loveliness. Please do come and visit, if you can, and say hello to me. Or if you prefer, you can ignore me and just soak up all the vintagey goodness. The Vintage & Handmade fairs at Chipping Sodbury are always great events, and definitely worth moseying round to find vintage treasures, cute handmade loveliness and tea and homemade cake.
Saturday 26th March 10am - 3.30pm Chipping Sodbury Town Hall BS37 6AD

Friday, 5 February 2016

Desperately Seeking Pippi

Here's a mysterious mystery, which may never be solved.
For months now, the stats for my vintage Etsy shop have been dominated by Pippi Longstocking. That's not Pippi Longstocking in the picture above. It's just a cute 1960s card which I've had in my shop. In the description, I said she reminded me of Pippi Longstocking. Here's another picture, and you'll see what I mean.
Now I can understand that the occasional Etsy shopper looking for Pippi Longstocking might click on the card to take a look, but they've been clicking in their hundreds! It's my most viewed item, week after week, month after month. Not only that, but the views far surpass any of my other items. Here are the stats for the last 30 days:
 
So you can see 'Pippi' is the top search term by a mile and a half and then a bit more on top! I'm going to call it 'The Pippi Effect', and try to sell this idea as a new marketing strategy.

But really, I'm completely baffled. How can an item that isn't even anything to do with Pippi Longstocking get so many views from the Pippi search? Why are so many people searching for Pippi in the first place? It's a cute card, and I guess the picture draws people in to take a look, but it's an odd one. The interweb is just full of weird happenings, I guess.
 
Disappointingly, despite the many views, very few people added it to their favourites, and nobody bought it ... until today!
 
So the mystery is coming to an end. The Pippi Effect is over. What will happen now? Well, for a start, I imagine the number of views for my shop will plummet. Unless people start searching for some other obscure character. Or maybe I can start the Bonkers Old Doll Effect?



Saturday, 23 January 2016

Don't Look, Ethel!

I feel a bit dirty today, because of something I did last night. Now, before your imagination runs amok, I'd better explain.  For the first time ever, I listed something in my Etsy shop that needed a 'MATURE CONTENT' warning.

What was this scandalous object? Well, my shop is called Kitsch and Curious for a reason. You see, as well as all the kitsch stuff I love, I also have a hankering for curious objects. And among the curiosities that I have a hankering for, are weird bits of folk art and tribal art.

And back in the day, when there were many hippy shops selling Indian or South American knick-knacks and whatnots, I used to pick up odd things that took my fancy. At some point, I bought these small Peruvian figures. Fertility figures. With... details. And doing...certain activities.

If you're over 18 and curious, you can see the listing. If not, here are some kittens to look at instead.

Extra bonus points, if you remembered my blog title comes from here

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Death and Textiles

Had a quick trip into Bristol just before Christmas for a teeny bit of shopping, but mostly to visit Death - The human experience, an exhibition at Bristol Museum.  As ever, I was drawn to the textile and tribal pieces like this Igbo dance costume.

And this Aboriginal 'coffin' (a sort of urn for bones)
The exhibition tries to show artefacts relating to death in various different cultures, but lack of space (and presumably resources too) meant that the choices seemed a bit random. But there were plenty of interesting items, including this spectacular lion-shaped coffin.
I intended visiting over a month ago, but was thwarted by a particularly nasty and lingering cold that everyone has been enjoying like it was the latest fashion. So I was very pleased to finally get there.
 
The day was made even better by discovering a rather wonderful vintage textile shop on our way to the museum.
I remember this shop from many years ago, when it was one of those tantalising places that never opened, but through the window, you could see overflowing cabinets of vintage haberdashery, sparkly jewellery and general loveliness. Now somebody else owns the shop, but the cabinets are still in there, and there is a lot of loveliness. There was also a very chatty and friendly gent, busy at his sewing machine, who welcomed and entertained us as we browsed.
It was altogether a lovely experience, especially as I bought four vintage hankies and a small piece of fabric for the very reasonable price of £3.50! So if you're a textile enthusiast and find yourself anywhere near Lower Clifton Hill in Bristol, I recommend a visit.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Dismal-ish

Guess where I've been? Unless you've been under a a very large rock wearing a blindfold and noise-cancelling headphones for the last few weeks, you will recognise that this is Dismaland, Banksy's new exhibition at Weston-super-Mare.
Big Rig Jig by Mike Ross
Weston is the next town along the coast from where I live, so I was extremely excited when the news broke about this. I loved the exhibition he put on in Bristol in 2009. (Funnily enough I never blogged about it at the time. I think I wrote something and never published it, although I did put some photos on Flickr.) I love the fact that Banksy still does these big events out here in the provinces, and doesn't forget his hometown.

In fact I was all geared up to try to go the locals' free preview, but as well as being a resident of North Somerset, I discovered you had to have a special coupon from the Weston newspaper, so I had to just buy a ticket like the rest of the known world.
Although the dismal 'bemusement park' concept is Banksy's, and there are several large works by him, the majority of the work is by other artists. These other works complement Banksy's, because they fit the concept and/or share his political/satirical stance. (They include Damien Hurst, David Shrigley, Julie Burchill, Jimmy Cauty and many more.) So essentially we got treated to a major exhibition of contemporary art - in Weston!
Work by Maskull Lasserre
And thousands of people bought tickets and queued up to see all this art. This is another thing I love about Banksy - he makes work that people want to see. It's funny and provocative, and not too subtle. In this interview, he compares it to music, and I think that's really valid - not everything has to be highbrow.

But at the same time as being popular, he has a subversive stance. All the nice middle-class visitors to Dismaland get to see the 'Comrades Advice Bureau', with stalls promoting Strike Magazine, Acorn, and selling tools to hack into bus shelter advertising. I think it's brilliant that he gives these non-profit organisations a massive opportunity to promote themselves.

I didn't get photos of everything, so what I'm showing you is a little bit random. Predictably enough, some my favourite pieces involved textiles. This is cross-stitch embroidery on a car bonnet.
Take a closer look -
Extraordinary work by Severija Inčirauskaitė-Kriaunevičienė from Lithuania, referencing traditional embroidery from her region.
I liked this, but at the same time I'm a little bit unsure. Is it a bit too gimmicky? Not sure of the relationship between a car wreck and embroidery. I think I preferred the domestic reference of her embroidery on irons - more controlled cross stitch too.
I really liked the colour and vigour of this large-scale painting by Barry Reigate.
But some of my favourite things were not artworks at all, but the dilapidated old children's rides that were dotted about the place. (Trust me to choose vintage tat over everything else)


Outside the galleries, I found the air of dilapidation and misery a bit depressing at times, which I suppose was the general idea. It didn't help that I was a bit tired, and I'm never too happy in big crowds, but there did seem to be something a bit sad about hordes of people enjoying themselves in a crumbling concrete enclosure, with crappy sideshows, where the overall message was about what's wrong in this world.

Having said that, I did enjoy it, especially when we had a ride on the scarily-old and creaking ferris wheel ('Safer than Alton Towers', as one of the 'Notional Trust' guides told us). Definitely the best day out in Weston-super-Mare I've had for a long time! (And that includes the day we went on the pier and bought sombreros). Recommended. (The next batch of tickets goes on sale on the 16th.)
Happy, happy, happy

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Who is Elsie? What is she?

I have just revived my Elsie Jones Etsy shop, with a batch of handmade felt brooches, above. (What do you think of them?) I've decided to stick with my 'nom de plume' of Elsie, which as some of you know is not my real name. I'm actually Elaine, but Elaine Jones is a pretty common name and there is a rather good artist by that name, so when I set up a website for my art, I decided to call myself Elsie. This enabled me to get the domain name of ElsieJones.co.uk and I've stuck with it.


Around the same time, I started using Facebook, and because I was convinced I would only use it for promoting my work and networking with other artists (obviously that only lasted about 5 minutes!), I used Elsie as my Facebook name. That has become just a personal account, so now I've just set up an Elsie Jones Facebook page for my artistic endeavours. (I'd love to get more 'likes' there, so if you'd like to see my work in progress and textile art of all sorts, please visit/like/share etc.)
I still have my Kitsch and Curious shop and FB page for selling vintage stuff, but that might go on the back burner for a little while.

Instead, I'm going to concentrate on making things.  I'm really enjoying working with felt, and making small wearable items. I've tried needle felting now, which is great fun, although any craft that involves someone as clumsy as me me stabbing away with a viciously sharp needle is probably not ideal.

I'm also loving the opportunity to use vintage kitsch buttons from my stash. I have a huge stash of trinkets and knick-knacks, frippery and gimcracks and am trying to use them in various assemblages. Here's one I did a while back, which will be in my shop soon.